Modern consumer protection laws may help some consumers who have problems—but understanding the reasons for the laws, locating reliable information, and making informed decisions that avoid the problems addressed in the laws are the most effective actions that consumers can take.
Consumer protection laws address the four consumer rights named by President Kennedy in an address to Congress in 1962, plus a fifth right— to consumer education —added by President Ford in 1975. A sixth right — to service — was added by President Clinton in 1994. Each of these "official" rights is reflected in federal as well as state consumer protection law and regulation.
• The right to be informed - to be given the accurate information you need to make wise choices and to be protected from fraudulent advertising, mislabeling, and misrepresentation.
• The right to choose - to have reasonable access to a variety of products and services at reasonable prices.
• The right to safety -- to be protected against injury or illness from hazardous products and services.
• The right to be heard - to be assured that your interest as a consumer will get a sympathetic hearing, both from business and government, and that laws that are supposed to protect consumers will be enforced.
• The right to consumer education - the right to receive early in life a fundamental understanding of the consumer marketplace, including the rights and responsibilities of all sectors of the society. This right is also interpreted as meaning that consumers should have access throughout their lives to education that will help them understand new federal and state laws and regulations, and to make informed decisions about new products, services and marketplace practices.
• The right to service was named an "official" consumer right by the President and announced by the U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs during the October 1994 observance of National Consumers Week. Consumers may expect convenience, the right to be treated with respect, an appropriate response to their needs and problems, and good quality design and workmanship in a product. Additionally, consumers may expect a courteous manner while in a store or other establishment even if a purchase is not made.